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Vol. 42 (2023): Advancing Women in Leadership Journal

Voices of Leadership: The Effects of Voice Pitch on Percieved Leadership Capabilities

May 5, 2021
2023-08-28 — Updated on 2023-08-28


Previous research shows that voice pitch plays a significant role in leadership selection (Mayew et al., 2013) and that more
masculine traits, including voice pitch, are typically associated with successful individuals in leadership roles. The present study
extended prior research by examining how sex and gender characteristics of voices influence the perception of leadership
qualities within a military environment. Specifically, the design of the study was a 2 (sex of voice: male, female) × 2 (gender of
voice: masculinized, feminized) × 2 (sex of participant; man, woman) mixed model design, with the sex and gender of voice
serving as the within subjects factors, sex of participant as a between subjects factor, and ratings of military leadership potential
serving as the dependent variable. Results from an analysis of variance showed that participants rated men’s voices significantly
higher than women’s voices for leadership potential. However, feminine voices were rated significantly higher than masculine
voices. Additionally, there was a significant interaction between sex of voice and gender of voice that showed that the masculine
female voice received the lowest ratings of leadership potential. Male participants also provided lower ratings on average to all
voices when compared to female participants. We discuss these findings in terms of gender role congruity and the influence of
androgyny and gender norms on perceptions of women’s leadership potential in a male-dominated, hierarchical environment.